Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cuttlefish and Quests

29 April 2010

Two things of note - a death in Venice, and a DHL in Venice.

1. Mutual of Omaha moment first. Sean and are padding back to our Locanda after a sunny day with lots of miles, a picnic, one too many Basilica's for Sean (ie one), and a glorious boat ride or two. I've noticed that the seagulls do not come ashore here. No begging, no eating scraps in the Campos, no pestering the tourists. They are glossy, sleek, and seem utterly above that. Pigeon territory. I had idly mused to Sean that perhaps this was because food in the lagoon was abundant enough for them, however nasty the water quality was rumored to be. Back to Sean & I padding down the canal towards the last bridge before home. Sean notices a gull dragging something through the water, slowly. Bird has successfully caught something, and is heading our way. We stop, and hang out at the edge of the canal to get a better look. Other people have stopped, too. Whatever the gull has, is Heavy. The gull stops right in front of us and attempts to fly out of the water onto a nearby boat -- and fails. The cuttlefish it has speared in it's bill (tenuously) is about half it's length. BIG. Much thrashing and jetting of ink later (amidst calls of 'coppia! coppia!' from the 10 year old boys next to us and 'tragico, tragico' from the old men on the other side) and the cuttlefish loses the fight. The crowd dispersed as the Gull set to it's meal. We thoroughly enjoyed our nautical natural history moment.

2. Just because the DHL website and Google Maps tells you the location and address of something, doesn't mean it's there (this is also true for FedEx). This is not a news flash, but there are time when you really, really need that to be true. Having to get notarized, signed documents overseas while staying in Venice is one of those times. Sean had already attempted to go via the Italian Postale (no diggity dice on that one) and had looked up the address of the DHL office in Venice. Easy, we think. It's not that far from us. We mark the map, and set off....and arrive on a narrow street that is entirely residential. We do a few loops around various side streets and 'maybe this way's' before we head over a bridge and see a motorboat with the name of the shipping company parked at the water gate to a Farmacia. Oh! It must be this way, or nearby! Over the bridge we go, looking for our shipping store. No such luck. So, we head to the Farmacia, and inside I ask the nice lady in my elementary school Italian "Dove e il "Dei Rossi Shipping" per favore?" She smiles and finishes up with her customer. The other fellow behind the counter gets a big grin and says in HIS elementary school English "Is her husband!" Lucky us. So the nice pharmacist marches us down the canal, over another bridge, and there, nowhere near where we were looking, is the blessed DHL store. I think she drove the boat to work that morning.

p.s. The FedEx store exists, we saw it today. In an utterly unrelated location as well.
p.p.s. Sean Kelly Sidebar Special on Negronis and Gingerino

I've had 3 of the worst tasting beverages in my life in the last 24 hours. How is this possible?

Horrible #1: The Negroni - Anneke and I had been walking for a while and things slow down in the afternoon, so we camped out at a little cafe. I'd read that a Negroni was at some point, for some reason a popular drink. The ingredients: Gin, Campari, Bitters, Ice. Notice the lack of ANY mix. No mix. All booze. I think this is what Douglas Addams was all about when he wrote about the pan-galactic gargle blaster. Not only was the drink strong, it tasted like vomit. Oh, it started sweet but then tasted like I'd thrown up and there was no toothbrush around. So I had another.
Horrible #2: San Pelligrino 'Chino' - A non-alcoholic soft-drink / energy drink. I've never tasted a San Pelli thing I didn't like. Energy Drink + San Pelligrino quality = Yes. Except No. No. No. No. The damn thing tasted EXACTLY like the Negroni from yesterday.
Horrible #3: Ok, so to erase the double psych-out of two horrible Campari tasting drinks I go for an eight pack of these tiny little bottles Called Gingerino to mix with some Jack later. There's a little market down the street. I'm so excited when I get back to the room that there's going to be some secret, awesome tasting ginger-based soft drink, I crack one open and. it. tastes. like. ... CAMPARI!!!, and by Campari I mean it tastes like after-barf.

In sum - yuck. Kaytea Petro and Melissa Dana I know you Italian American Art-stars love Campari but what the hell is wrong with you? Why is it so bitter? It tastes like licking a rotten walnut over and over again. Still there's no place I'd rather NOT enjoy drinks like these than Venice.

Chez Swelly Hits the Road

Hello again, party people!

Sean and I are busting some paradigms and wholeheartedly embracing the Honeymoon Idea! After four weeks of packing, prep, wrap up, move out, and storage...we actually got on the plane and have landed at our first destination..Venice. We got here on Monday afternoon (blurry -- long 48 hour day of sorts) and by today (Thursday) we're starting to hit our stride with the time change and the wind down. After working so hard, relaxing takes some getting used to -- but get used to it we are!

First thing is I'd like to sing the praises of our little modest Locanda Sant' Anna. Clean, simple room, charming hosts, a big white Akita, excellent coffee in the morning and good water pressure.
The view from our room is also magnificent. The full moon last night helped, too, i suppose.
The pace here is slow, which is good for a landing spot -- the daze and haze can clear at it's own pace with very few consequences. We can sit on the waterfront and drink Bellini's from a bottle and watch the boats. When our feet get tired from wandering, we can hop on a vaporetto until we are refreshed and then hop off and wander again. A welcome change of pace, to say the least. Sean has masterminded our European internet connection with a Vodaphone internet key thingy, so many systems are now go.

Also - Peggy Guggenheim. Wow. Absolutely a museum and a home to visit when you make it here. The lady had taste and eccentricity in spades. Adolph Gottlieb was a new artist to me, and a wonderful surprise. So were the American hipster art students staffing the desk. What a gig for a 20 year old! Pictures from that visit soon.

OK - time to hop off and go on our picnic.